Kobe Bryant died on Jan. 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, and as recent as the tragedy still seems, the first anniversary of his death is only a day away. Tributes will likely come in throughout Tuesday's anniversary, but the first significant one fittingly came from a player with whom Bryant shared a close relationship: Kyrie Irving.
Irving modeled much of his playing style after Bryant, and after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the championship in 2016, Irving FaceTimed Bryant from the locker room. That friendship lasted until Bryant died in January, which affected Irving so greatly that he sat out of Brooklyn's scheduled game that night. But as Brooklyn won't be playing on the actual anniversary, Irving unveiled his tribute on Monday by wearing Bryant's No. 8 Lakers jersey upon his arrival at Barclays center for Monday's game between his Nets and the Miami Heat.
The league itself made a number of gestures to honor Bryant after his death, with the NBA All-Star Game MVP Trophy notably being renamed in his honor. Teams intentionally took eight- and 24-second violations to open games in the immediate aftermath of the crash, which honored his two uniform numbers, and the Lakers wore the Black Mamba uniforms that he helped design throughout their championship run.
Bryant is revered among the players that followed him into the NBA. Irving's tribute may have been the first, but it almost certainly will not be the last.